20 July 2024

Free mouthwash given to local NHS staff after research shows it could prevent severe COVID infection

Having good oral hygiene could reduce severe COVID-19 infection, according to the latest research carried out at Salisbury District Hospital.

Research by a Salisbury Consultant Radiologist, Dr Graham Lloyd-Jones, has found that simple oral hygiene measures could reduce severe COVID-19 infection by reducing the levels of the virus in the mouth.

All of Salisbury Hospital’s COVID-19 patients have received a supply of mouthwash since October 2021. Now, 4,100 bottles of mouthwash are being distributed to Salisbury Hospital staff in a drive to improve oral healthcare.

Staff member Helen O’Shea preparing to deliver mouthwash bottles to staff

Dr Lloyd-Jones explained, “The lung disease of COVID-19 is in the blood vessels, not in the airways. The virus enters the nose and replicates in the mouth. A single teaspoon of saliva contains 500 million copies of the virus. The virus could easily leak from your saliva into the blood vessels of the mouth, especially if you have gum disease or bleeding gums.

“The virus would then be passed directly to the lungs via the bloodstream exactly to the areas where it does the most damage. There are everyday oral hygiene steps which might reduce the virus in the mouth and saliva, and lower the risk of it spreading to the lungs.”

Dr Graham Lloyd Jones

Dr Lloyd- Jones first published his theory describing the potential for the passage of SARS-CoV-2 from the mouth to the lungs via the blood vessels in February 2021. Since then, he has been working with academics, clinicians and gum disease experts to prove his theory.

Research from Cardiff University has also shown that some mouthwash products contain ingredients that completely eradicate SARS-CoV-2 in the test tube in 30 seconds. These ingredients include cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and ethyl lauroyl arginate (ELA/LAE).

The mouthwashes being provided to Salisbury Hospital’s staff and patients with COVID-19 contain these ingredients. The Cardiff research shows that products that contain chlorhexidine or ethanol alone do not eradicate the virus.

The project has gained the enthusiastic attention of those at the very top of dentistry, public health, infection control and medical research in the UK.

Staff member Holly Osper preparing to deliver mouthwash bottles to staff

Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer for England said, “Good oral health is a key element of compassionate care. Every patient care pathway, in every hospital, should include routine daily mouth care. I welcome the Salisbury Hospital initiative, their recognition that mouth care matters and the wider dividends for health.”

Stacey Hunter, CEO of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust said, “We are aiming for excellence in oral healthcare and whilst studies are ongoing, we are forging ahead with this pioneering initiative. The measures we are putting in place are based on existing evidence that shows paying attention to oral healthcare for inpatients is beneficial, shortening hospital stay and even reducing death rate.”

Salisbury Hospital will share its ideas and practices with medical and dental colleagues from across the country at the inaugural Salisbury Hospital Oro-Systemic Health Symposium to be held on Thursday 3rd March 1 – 4:30 pm.

Written by
Beth Doherty
View all articles
Written by Beth Doherty